Complements What do sunscreen labels really mean?


By Lashelle Kuhlman, licensed aesthetician, reconstructive & cosmetic surgery, Mount Nittany Physician Group

Spring is right around the corner so this is the perfect time of year to start thinking about restocking your sunscreen supply. It is extremely important to use sunscreen when in the sun and even on a cloudy day. Sun exposure can increase your risks of skin cancer, and there are so many available from which to choose.

My advice is to find a sunscreen that is broad spectrum, meaning that it protects against UVA and UVB rays. The sunlight that reaches us is made up of two types of harmful rays: long waves (UVA) and short waves (UVB). Basically, UVA rays can age us, and UVB rays can burn us. It is also best to choose a sunscreen that is water-resistant because most of our summer activities revolve around water and, of course, sweating. All labels are different on sunscreens, but generally you need to reapply every two hours.

With many different sunscreens available, the most common question pertains to what kind of sunscreen should be used. Many people believe that the higher the SPF, the better, but what type protects the best?  The higher the SPF ratings are, the more UVB rays are blocked, but none offer 100 percent protection. While many people focus on purchasing sunscreen with higher SPF numbers, experts have proven that SPF 15 sunscreen provides all the sun protection human skin requires. I always recommend at least an SPF 30, but what is important, however, is that the sunscreen is water-resistant and that it works across a broad spectrum.

As for my favorites among those we carry in our office, they are Revision Skincare Intellishade and Colorescience Sunforgettable. These are just a few of the many sunscreens that we carry, but they are our most popular. Revision’s Intellishade is an anti-aging, tinted face moisturizer that has a broad spectrum SPF of 45. This can be used as your moisturizer and your foundation. The best part about it is that it reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and provides the broad-spectrum protection. Colorescience Sunforgettable is a loose mineral that can be brushed over your face and body and is easy to apply and reapply. This also l comes as a broad-spectrum SPF and is water-resistant.

There are so many sunscreens from which to choose; as long as you remember to find one that is broad spectrum to protect against both UVA and UVB rays, you will be protected. Shop around and give a few a try; you will find what works best for you!